Justice Thurgood Marshall, a living civil rights hero and one of the last liberal voices on the Supreme Court, announced his retirement after 24 years of service, which ended in frustration and anger as he watched a conservative-dominated bench ascend. On June 27, 1991, Justice Thurgood retired.
Thurgood Marshall was the first African-American Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and he was instrumental in ending legal/judicial segregation in the United States courts. Marshall was the first black Justice of the Supreme Court, and the 96th Justice overall, serving from October 1967 to October 1991. He was a well-known and steadfast supporter of civil rights.
Marshall was born on July 2, 1908, in Baltimore, Maryland, and received his Bachelor of Laws from Howard University. Thurgood earned a memorable place in American history based on two key accomplishments or achievements. First, he worked as a legal counselor for the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), where he used his position on the judiciary to advocate for African-American equality.
Marshall used his legal knowledge and skills to direct the litigation that ended Jim Crow segregation’s legal underpinnings. Thurgood Marshall won the “Board of Education v. Brown Case” in 1954, which ended widespread racial segregation in legal institutions and public schools.
Thurgood traveled nationwide as the NAACP Attorney between 1934 and 1962, representing all types of clients in disputes involving race and racial injustices. He handled trials ranging from common/petty crimes to appellate advocacy, raising the most pressing constitutional law concerns. His unwavering support for civil rights and equality earned him the moniker “Mr. Civil Rights.” Marshall argued in approximately 32 Supreme Court cases, winning 29 of them.
Among the famous cases he won were Allwright v. Smith in 1944, which invalidated the concept of “White Primary.” Another case was Kraemer v. Shelley, which prevented state courts from enforcing racially restrictive real-estate covenants. Finally, Thurgood Marshall advocated for and won the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which ruled and invalidated state-enforced racial segregation in public schools (this practice was found to be unconstitutional).
In his second accomplishment, he crafted a distinctive jurisprudence characterized by uncompromising liberalism while serving as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and the first African-American Justice. This resulted in an unusual sensitivity to practical considerations beyond the formalities of the law, and thus an identifiable willingness to dissent.
He was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. President Johnson Lyndon later appointed him as Solicitor General in 1965. President Johnson nominated him to the United States Supreme Court in 1967, and the Senate confirmed him in October.
Justice Thurgood Marshall was an outspoken civil rights advocate in conservative-dominated courts. Throughout his two-and-a-half-decade tenure, he voted to uphold racial and gender affirmative practice policies and was successful in doing so. Marshall died of heart failure on January 24, 1993, leaving a legacy of his staunch advocacy for equality and civil rights in American history.